Meredith E. Brown '21, Gettysburg College

Document Type

Student Research Paper

Publication Date

Fall 2017

Department 1



During the Renaissance, collectors saw Morpho butterflies as beautiful, elegant, and rare creatures. Their exotic origin and sophistication made these fascinating creatures the subjects of scientific observation, decoration, and symbolism. Butterflies of the Morpho genus include a wide variety of marvelous, striking, and beautiful species. Home to South and Central America, Morpho butterflies thrive in the rainforests of Nicaragua, Colombia, and Venezuela. When Renaissance Europeans began exploring American rainforests, they were quickly captivated by these butterflies. Morphos feature vivid blue coloration and iridescence on the dorsal side of their wings as well as a yellow-brown coloration on the other side. [excerpt]

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Produced as part of a collaboration between Kay Etheridge's course FYS-188: Exploration of the Marvelous: Art and Science in the Renaissance, and Felicia Else's course ARTH 284: Wonders of Nature and Artifice: The Renaissance Quest for Knowledge.

Original version online at

Audio guides on the Morpho butterflies and Maria Sibylla Merian included.